IRock director talks ConExpo, supply and more

By |  March 24, 2023
Nate Russell


As Pit & Quarry’s editors traversed ConExpo-Con/Agg last week, they asked a handful of exhibitors to share insights about their experience at the trade show held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. P&Q editor-in-chief Kevin Yanik caught up with Nate Russell, director of sales and business development at IRock Crushers, on the second-to-last day of the show in the company’s Central Hall booth.

Yanik: What did you think of ConExpo-Con/Agg? What were your expectations coming into the show, and did the show meet those expectations?

Russell: It met the expectations. There was a lot of good traffic. There was a lot of international traffic, which was really nice too. All in all, I’m pleased.

Yanik: Do you feel the show traffic is a reflection of the state of the industry at this point, or were people simply pent up, ready to come out and do something?

Russell: A little bit of both. There’s a lot going on with the infrastructure bill. People are buying and looking. They’re a little more confident. A few seem to be slightly apprehensive, but as a rule I’d say 90 to 95 percent of the people are confident. They think the market is going well.

Yanik: How was your show early in the week?

Russell: On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I was jammed basically from 8:30 in the morning until the time we wrapped up dinner at 9:30 or 10:00 at night. We kind of came in today (Friday) knowing Friday would be a slow day of the show but, again, it exceeded my expectations. Usually, Friday can be a little slow.

I think some of the prospects out there went out and did their thing for a few days and decided to do some business later in the week.

IRock Crushers exhibited in Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center during ConExpo-Con/Agg 2023. Photo: P&Q Staff

IRock Crushers exhibited in Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center during ConExpo-Con/Agg 2023. Photo: P&Q Staff

Yanik: So, you’re hearing people are ready to buy equipment these days?

Russell: It’s going to be another year of ‘you can sell it if you can get it.’ There’s demand. We plan very well in advance and had all of our build slots filled in early January. We’re grateful for that.

The supply chain in Northern Ireland seems to be improving, so the lead times are getting better. You’re seeing fewer delays.

Yanik: In terms of the types of buyers and their applications, what did you see at ConExpo?

Russell: As infrastructure dollars come out, phase one is going to present a ton of paving work. There’s going to be a lot of RAP machines going out with impact crushers. I think that’s going to be a real stronghold for 2023.

The aggregate business is good. We’re even seeing some start-ups, which is refreshing. In the Midwest, we’re seeing some start-up gravel pits, which we don’t see [often]. There’s also a lot of chatter about the missile silos that are getting redone in the Midwest.

Yanik: What messaging were you trying to impart on ConExpo-Con/Agg visitors?

Russell: We’re talking about our model and ‘this is what support looks like.’ We’re working hard. There’s still a troubled global supply chain, although things are improving in some spots. But we’re really trying to change the face of the parts and service support that you get from a lot of manufacturers. It’s a challenging task, but we’re really focusing on support. That’s our message.

Yanik: One thing we heard earlier this year at the Pit & Quarry Roundtable & Conference was about supply and how some producers are more accepting of today’s long lead times. Do you have a preference on how you’d like do business as a manufacturer? Where do you see things going?

Russell: I think the days of placing an order and having the unit in 12 or 14 weeks have gone away. It’s all about pre-planning.

We had our entire year in for 2023 on Jan. 1 – what we were building and when we needed to have it. We’re very careful about that. We plan accordingly. We plan for massive growth.

Yanik: We’ve heard quite a bit about backlogs already this year, and it seems like we’re talking about 2024 in a lot of cases. Is that what you see?

Russell: Oh yeah – in many cases. Conveyors are going to be an issue. It seems to be tough getting conveyors.

But it’s really the way it needs to be. If you want to be cost-effective and try to bring down inflation, the only way other to do that other than the Fed raising [interest] rates is to really pre-plan. Get your manufacturers set up. If they know they need to build 100 units, then they know they need 100 of this and 100 of that. And they’re going to be more efficient. They’re going to be able to buy better. I think that’s an important component.

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